1 Peter 2:18–19 (MEV): Servants, be submissive to your masters with all fear, not only to the good and gentle, but also to the harsh. For this is commendable, if because of conscience toward God a person endures grief, suffering unjustly.
It is an ugly and brutal world. Back in our previous excisions (verse 13,) Peter encouraged us to submit ourselves to every human authority for the Lord’s sake. It is a timely message for today and for me, personally.
There are some who may read this who resist going to church. There are many reasons. Most of them center around some sort of selfish statements that often begin with I. It’s understandable. I mean, if a local body has errant leadership, errant doctrine, weird fellowship, hypocrites or any combination of these and others, why bother?
Yet Peter told us to submit to every human institution. I think that would extend to even those that we may initially discern as wrong.
Fellowship with others is necessary.
I may not have heard every excuse, but have heard plenty. I’ve even offered a plethora of my own. And still do, at times.
Yet we are called to assemble. That is what a church is, literally… called out ones. (As an aside; I don’t think there is a scriptural precedence for leaving a local church.)
Maybe there is a different way to think about gathering together.
Servants, not leaders.
Look at how Peter addresses those he is speaking to in the cited text above. It is as servants. That is a proper way to think of ourselves.
Looking to the previous thought and leaning back into that, we are to honor all people, love believers, revere God, and honor the king. As king in our case, it’s the president. For some reading, this may be easy. For others, it can be challenging. The rest of this is going to really challenge.
None of us can do the things Peter said, unless we are servants. We cannot honor all people unless we serve them. Neither can we love our brothers and sisters in Jesus, unless we serve them. Revering God requires service.
It’s an inescapable conclusion.
Employees serve, leaders serve.
The contextual emphasis of this portion of Peter’s epistle is mainly for those who are employed by another. We are encouraged to submit, even to those who spitefully use us.
Those of us who are at the bottom of the traditional org chart know that the junks flows down to the lowest point. Though there are bosses, managers and leaders that perch above the lowest tier, at some point these are servants, too. Some may be gentle taskmasters, others ruthless lords.
It’s easy to work for a gentle taskmaster. Submitting to an overbearing lord is extremely taxing. Peter tells us this kind of suffering is commendable. It is the place where we really want to be.
1 Peter 2:20 (MEV): For what credit is it if when you are being beaten for your sins you patiently endure? But if when doing good and suffering for it, you patiently endure, this is favorable before God.
There are many who will laud their own endurance. Sometimes we might need to do that. Though mostly the endurance we laid is for the suffering we’ve brought in through our own proclivities. Think about a life-long smoker suffering through cancer or a like malady. What Peter is saying is plain.
It is Jesus Who has shown us our org charts are really upside-down. In this case, the junk… Our junk… Flowed on to Him.
2 Corinthians 5:21 (MEV): God made Him who knew no sin to be sin for us, that we might become the righteousness of God in Him.
Jesus flipped that org chart Right-side down, taking all of our rebellion on Himself.
Suffer for doing good.
The favorable thing before God is to suffer for doing good. Jesus did for us.
1 Peter 2:21–22 (MEV): For to this you were called, because Christ suffered for us, leaving us an example, that you should follow His steps: “He committed no sin, nor was deceit found in His mouth.”
If we’re Christians… It’s really our calling.
Matthew 16:24–28 (MEV): Then Jesus said to His disciples, “If anyone will come after Me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross, and follow Me. For whoever would save his life will lose it, and whoever loses his life for My sake will find it. For what will it profit a man if he gains the whole world and loses his own soul? Or what shall a man give in exchange for his soul? For the Son of Man shall come with His angels in the glory of His Father, and then He will repay every man according to his works. Truly I say to you, there are some standing here who shall not taste death before they see the Son of Man coming in His kingdom.”
I love that. Remember, this was Jesus’ response to Peter after He rebuked him by saying, “Get behind Me, Satan!”
These words Peter knows intimately, having been one of our greatest examples of failing Jesus. He is all one of the best to give to us real hope. It is why he could die upside-down on a cross as a martyr.
We read of the martyrs of old. They lived this out. To follow Jesus requires sober thinking. It requires sacrifice. It isn’t for the faint-hearted. (I know. I was there at one time not too long ago, and still succumb to that.)
We ought do exactly the same knowing this is favorable to God.
A personal application.
As I wrote earlier of the local fellowship I attend, I would sometimes think to rather not.
Is everything perfect there?
No. (But just thinking it isn’t might mean I am measuring against my own relative notions.)
Would I change things?
You betcha! (That kind of thinking is also very self-centered. I told you this was going to get challenging.)
But the local fellowship I attend isn’t for me. It’s not mine, nor is it about me, my well-being or even my comfort. It’s about attending to serve others. You know, honoring people, loving brothers and fearing God. (That is our calling.)
I serve in a few official capacities. Some would call it being a leader. I don’t want to seem braggadocios. A leader is really a servant of other servants. This is the way God does it. First is last, least is first.
We should shoulder the burden with others, as more hands make the work light. That’s good and easy to do.
The hard thing?
There is a leadership covenant they would like all who serve to affirm and agree to. I have had some concerns with small but significant portions of it. (Mostly surrounding legalese, courts and perceived personal rights of redress that are waived.)
I have spoken with good friends on my concerns. It is always God that answers… Though.
And I get it.
The previous blog post was telling us how to live as servants. That was to abstain from fleshly lusts that war against the soul. There is a lifestyle covenant contained within it. That can help bind together brothers and sisters in love.
It also helps us to live honorably amongst outsiders. Especially given the culture’s mores, a small part of the stipulations concern gender and sexuality. Of course, these ideas will be demonized by the culture as evil. On that final day of judgment, those who do such things will give honor to God having to acknowledge the good in what we do.
The covenant knits us together as one. Us I. The sense of those who are parties to it.
It may use legal language. And that’s okay. We are to submit to those human things for God’s sake.
Rest assured, my mind has changed considerably. Enough about me.
Time is short. Let us draw near to Jesus by drawing near to each other.
Hebrews 10:23–25 (MEV): Let us firmly hold the profession of our faith without wavering, for He who promised is faithful. And let us consider how to spur one another to love and to good works. Let us not forsake the assembling of ourselves together, as is the manner of some, but let us exhort one another, especially as you see the Day approaching.
There’s no time for selfishness, really. How can any of us hope to spur one another to love and good works by being the lone maverick?
It doesn’t work that way. One cannot serve anyone by asserting personal rights and privileges.
Take up that cross.
Suffer for doing the right thing.
Especially as we see the day of God’s wrath quickly approaching.